Living Frugal on Foreign Soil

by Ryan Yates

Loading everything we own into a shipping container

I’m excited to announce that we’re moving our family to the island of Eleuthera to become full-time foreign missionaries.

Just about every aspect of our lives is going to change . . . and quick. We’re flying down this Saturday, July 14.

There are many, many elements about this transition that we’re excited about. Topping the list is knowing that we’re following where God has called us to serve. However, from a personal finance perspective, I’m very curious and excitedly anxious about tackling such a strict (truly no-frills) budget.

Where We’re Going

My wife and I felt God’s call to the foreign mission field even before we met in college in 2001. After we tied the knot, we soon began seeking places to serve. Eventually, we found a small Christian school on a small island in the Atlantic.

However at first, we thought we were on the doorstep of moving to the heart of Honduras to help run an orphanage. Moving to Hownduras didn’t materialize as doors were shut and those opportunities were soon gone. Then came Eleuthera.

If you’ve never heard of Eleuthera . . . join the club. The first time we heard of this island was about 2 months before our first visit. It just so happens that Eleuthera is part of the Bahama islands. And if you’re anything like my wife and I, serving as missionaries in the Bahamas makes you do a double-take.

Unlike the islands of Nassau and St. Maarten, however, Eleuthera isn’t your stereotypical Bahama destination. With less than a handful of hotels on the very northern tip of the 110-mile island, the terrain and economy resemble Nicaragua, Honduras, or even southern Mexico.

We will be serving at Windermere High School, a Christian mission school dedicated to giving local kids a chance at an education. Although my wife and I will both be teaching classes, my wife is a certified special needs teacher . . . a specialization that the island has never had access to before. Needless to say, we are very excited to help these children in need.

Financial Outlook

I was blown away to find out how much it costs to live in a poor country. From food, to utilities, to generic supplies, everything available for purchase is anywhere from 3-5 times the cost of what we’re used to here in the US.

From my preliminary figuring, basic bills like electricity, housing, food, water, and insurance will use up about 80% of our budget. That doesn’t leave much for expenses like an emergency fund, retirement, college savings, car repairs, hurricane damage, school supplies, gasoline, flights back home during the holidays, or the numerous little financial hurdles that crop up each week.

We’re moving to a place where little inconveniences can become little emergencies and you can’t really pay for security (no matter how much money you have).

Being missionaries, we won’t be pulling a salary from the school where we will be teaching. Instead, we have been raising our own financial support through friends, family, and our home church.

The good thing about having a bit of income from blogging and freelance writing is that you can continue to earn as long as you have a computer and an internet connection. Believe it or not, we’ll actually have both (although I believe the internet speed will be anciently slow, but who’s complaining? lol)

All of that said, as a personal finance enthusiast, I’m excited to take on the challenge of living on a very tight budget without the security that I’ve become accustomed to.

The Future of Deliver Away Debt

So what can you expect from this blog in the middle of my family’s life changes? The same informational, helpful, and interesting (hopefully) blog posts that you’ve come to know and love over the years. We’ll continue to tackle wise spending, boosting your income, eliminating debt, and living financially smart.

You’ll also get an interesting perspective about the financial ups and downs while living in a place where we really don’t have much of a choice when it comes to our earning potential or finding the lowest prices.

Aside from the regular weekly posts and Frugal Friday Tips, I’m planning on writing about what its like living as a frugal missionary on a budget in a poor, yet expensive, country. No matter what happens, it should be pretty interesting.

If you’re interested in learning more about our missionary journey, take a look at our family website.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenny M. August 5, 2012 at

Awesome! Can’t wait!


DC @ Young Adult Money August 19, 2012 at

I used to read this blog when you were in the process of “delivering away debt.” I came across your blog while looking at the #Yakezie members list and wow what a change! So stoked that you guys decided to become full-time missionaries.

I would be interested in a post (or multiple posts) about how getting out of debt opened this door for you (and whether you considered going while you were in debt).

Anyway, looking forward to your posts on here and your family’s page.


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